THE EU’s border policies have turned the Mediterranean Sea into a refugee graveyard, NGOs charged today after photos emerged of some of the people who died in a recent shipwreck six miles off the coast of Lampedusa.
The people pictured on the sea bed by the Italian coastguard drowned after the wooden boat carrying approximately 70 people sank on October 6.
It is not known how many people perished that night but only about 40 people were rescued.
French charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which operates the Ocean Viking rescue ship with SOS Mediterranee, shared the picture on social media today.
“For the Ocean Viking’s teams who had searched for survivors of this shipwreck for 48 hours, seeing bodies of those who died in that tragedy lying on the sea floor is unbearable.
“Was any EU migration policy worth the Mediterranean Sea becoming a cemetery?”
SOS Mediterranee said that the “Mediterranean remains an ever-growing graveyard.”
German charity Sea Watch said: “This picture is painful. It is a glimpse into reality, into the very bottom of EU politics.
“The lives that are lost, not physically far but far from our so-called representatives’ consciences, are often lost unseen, unnamed and unknown. May this one be seen and move us to act.”
Spanish charity Open Arms said it was unbearable to know that all these people could have been saved. “They sought peace in Europe and found the sea bed. Let the managers pay, if ever a life can have a price.”
Mission Lifeline, a German NGO that has two ships impounded by the Italian and Maltese authorities, tweeted the picture saying: “At the seabed in the Mediterranean. Stop the madness! Let our ships Eleonore and Lifeline [go] free.”
Alarm Phone, an activist network that provides support for people crossing the Mediterranean Sea to the EU, said: “This horrible evidence is only one of many unknown but similar fates and the price of the European border regime.
“It shows to what extent the Mediterranean is a mass grave, hiding under its waters not only these bodies and these deaths but also the crimes of the European border policies, fully responsible for these deaths, which are in fact murders.”